John Vlismas. Picture: Supplied
John Vlismas. Picture: Supplied

John Vlismas ready to say goodbye to the limelight

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Oct 21, 2019

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Cape Town - Veteran comedian John Vlismas has dished out - and taken - some real comedy punches over the years.

But he’s finally ready to say goodbye to the limelight with his sanity intact. The funny man’s final comedy gig will be at the Big Five Comedy Show at Grandwest Casino’s Grand Arena early next month, a fitting farewell for the man who’s spent the past 25 years entertaining the masses both locally and internationally.

Vlismas, 46, said while he’s had a good run on the comedy circuit, he’s also battled many demons, some of which have provided fodder for his stand-up shows over the years.

The comic told Weekend Argus the death of his father last October was a real wake-up call.

“It’s a time when you do a bit of reflection and think about what you’re actually doing.

“I realised that I really like the teaching that I’m doing and I wanted to turn that into my next adventure,” Vlismas said.

About three years ago he went public with his battle with alcoholism and has since then stopped drinking.

He said it’s just one of the many ways he’s changed over the past few years, and reluctantly agrees that in his own way he’s had a positive effect on the local comedy scene.

Known for his caustic comedy and no-holds-barred punchlines, Vlismas said speaking about his own traumas and battles wasn’t always the easiest thing to deliver on stage.

“It can feel kind of lonely when you’re sticking to your guns all the time. I mean I helped the guys who went to Parliament to have the law re-written on hate speech.

“I always thought that I was really lucky because I saw my job as probably a lot easier than other people found their jobs.

“I think it takes more courage to go to an office every Monday morning.

“Whatever my k*k was I always felt very privileged.”

So, what’s next for Vlismas? Studying at Henley Business School has now led him to teach there.

“I’m doing an MBA at the moment and then they asked me to start teaching their executive education programme. (The course is) about empathy and how performers connect with audiences they’ve never met before and that resulted in a bit of a study of the shared world,” he said.

“I base my understanding of other humans on my understanding of myself because my underlying assumption is that we are all the same, even though we have different screen savers.”

And while he may be stepping away from the bright lights of the stage and adoring audiences, Vlismas admits that he’ll never stop being a comedian.

“As my dad passed away, and it was a hard harrowing time, I made a joke. In that moment, I knew my true nature, which is that I am that guy who tells a joke at the worse possible time,” he said.

Weekend Argus

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